Only in heaven are there perfect restaurants — establishments where every guest is a VIP and every meal a five-star feast. Here on earth, the realities of mismanagement, hungover chefs, and cranky servers all can disrupt the reverie of a faultless meal. The very best chefs and restaurateurs work passionately day in and day out to battle the inertia of complacency. But for something approaching heavenly perfection, book a table at L'Albatros Brasserie. With alarming consistency, this University Circle jewel produces the kind of evenings from which lasting memories are molded. From that initial hostess greeting to the delivery of your coat, every step in this choreographed production is thoughtful, deliberate, and designed to make you feel special. Of course, chef and owner Zack Bruell's food — a modern interpretation of classic French bistro fare — is so damned scrumptious, we'd endure abysmal service just to have at it. Dense pâté, garlicky escargot, skate in brown butter, pied de cochon. And don't get us started on the cheese! Toss in a secret, leaf-topped patio and vivacious cocktails and wines, and one begins to understand why our GPS instinctively points to L'Albatros.
11401 Bellflower Rd., Cleveland 216-791-7880, albatrosbrasserie.com